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NOTEBOOK: Walker looking forward to the challenge of facing Travis Kelce

Safety Tracy Walker and the Detroit Lions' defense did a pretty nice job last week defending Philadelphia Eagles Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz, who had four catches for 64 yards, but none when Walker was covering him.

So, is there anything Walker and the defense can glean from the job they did on Ertz last week and apply it to this week's matchup with Chiefs All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce?

"I really can't take anything because their playing styles are so different," Walker said Thursday. "Kelce is more aggressive. He's trying to come off and bulldoze off the line, whereas Ertz was more of a receiving-type tight end.

"They definitely have great games, both of them, but they are different in their ways."

Tight ends have caught a combined seven passes for 93 yards and no touchdowns in three games vs. the Lions' defense.

Walker hasn't allowed a touchdown in his coverage through three games, and opposing passers have a 76.7 passer rating when targeting him.

But Kelce is the best in the business right now, and Sunday will be a huge test for Walker and Detroit's defense trying to limit him. Kelce's got 17 receptions in three games for 284 yards and a touchdown. He's averaging 16.7 yards per reception.

"We'll have another huge challenge for us this week with Kelce," Lions head coach Matt Patricia said. "He's a guy that you can put on the back side and whether it's a linebacker, a safety, a corner – I don't think they really care who's over there covering him. They're going to give him the ball."

This is one of those measuring-stick games for the young Walker, who is in his first season as a full-time starter in his second year. Walker said he's looking forward to the challenge of facing one of the league's elite players at the position in Kelce.

"Most definitely," Walker said. "Always."


Running back Kerryon Johnson is facing eight defenders in the box on 45.83 percent of his rushes this season. Only Frank Gore is seeing more (54.55). Some of that is due to the Lions' use of two tight end personnel groupings.

Teams have stacked the box on Johnson, and it's probably no coincidence quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Lions' passing game have been thriving. Stafford has six touchdowns in three games, and the Lions are the only team in NFL history to have four 100-yard pass catchers with a touchdown through the first three games of a season.

Johnson had a little fun on Twitter with the statistic this week when the Eagles stacked the box on him 60 percent of the time.

But Johnson said Thursday all he cares about is winning, and if teams stack the box and the passing game goes off, that's fine with him, as long as it results in a win.

Johnson is also aware that this week's opponent – Kansas City – has struggled on defense to contain the run game this season. The Chiefs rank 27th in rushing defense (137.7) and are allowing 6.2 yards per carry.

"I'll be a lot happier this week than I was last week, that's for sure, just numbers wise," Johnson said of facing the Eagles last week and their No. 2 ranked rushing defense.

Baltimore rushed for 203 yards and four touchdowns in a 33-28 loss to Kansas City last week.

"They ran the ball hard," Johnson said of the Ravens. "That's something I've got to do. That's something all the running backs have to do. They did a very good job of breaking tackles and making extra yards when there were none and I think that's why they were successful running the ball."


The Lions released rookie wide receiver Travis Fulgham Thursday. The team did not announce a corresponding transaction.

Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr. and Danny Amendola continue to be Detroit's top three at receiver. All three have at least one 100-yard, one-touchdown performance on the season. The Lions signed speedster Marvin Hall to their active roster last week after releasing Chris Lacy, who is now on the practice squad.

Amendola is dealing with a chest injury suffered last week, and has missed practice Wednesday and Thursday. Hopefully he will be back on the practice field Friday.

Fulgham was a healthy scratch in each of Detroit's first three games, and in the end didn't have a role that could get him on the field on gameday.

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